Stents are used as medical interventions to open up closed tubular structures in the body. Stents can be a mesh tube shape, or they can be a mesh infused with pharmaceuticals that release slowly over time to prevent excess protein (scar tissue) build-up around or in the stent. Some stents have hooks or barbs so they can attach to the wall of the vessel they are replacing and not become displaced by the fluids passing through them. Tubular structures that stents are used to open are often arteries or veins carrying blood. Stenting is also used to replace part of the esophagus, and bladder. When all goes well with a stent as an intervention, the lumen (the opening of the tubular structure) is once again open and able to have whichever bodily fluid or product moving through it. Arteries in the heart can become clogged with cholesterol plaques. Veins in the legs may be compressed due to an artery close by exerting too much pressure on it. Also, vascular walls may just be too thin or weak and are in danger of bursting or swelling (aneurysms). In the case of an esophageal stent, stomach acid or tumor has damaged the person’s esophagus to the point that it needs to be replaced with something less porous.
Many things can go wrong with stents. Either upon being placed or years later as they often become clogged like the vessels they were initially meant to repair. The following is a list of complications that can happen with stents, surgery to place them, or x-rays to determine the best placement.
- Kidney damage due to X-ray dye
- Allergic reaction to X-ray dye or anesthesia
- Infection in surgical wound
- Blood clots breaking off of existing plaques
- Wall damage to the vessel the stent is meant to replace (which could make other surgeries necessary)
- Bleeding where the catheter was inserted
- Airway compression (in locations where stent placement is near airways)
- Hematemesis (vomiting of blood)
- Fistula formation
- Restenosis (vessel that the stent replaced becomes narrowed again due to scar tissue formation or cholesterol plaque buildup)
- Stroke due to blood clot formation during or after surgery
- Arrhythmias or abnormal heart rates can develop with stents. If they are severe, they can lead to death or the need for more surgery to place a pacemaker to correct heart rhythms.
Complications due to stents are higher for persons with any of the following:
- Bleeding disorders
- Kidney disease
- Over the age of 60
Stents are often used to open clogged arteries and restore necessary blood flow to the tissues. Make sure that the procedure is necessary, that it is the right therapy choice for you, and that your doctor is proficient and knowledgeable. There are often options for most medical issues. Don’t be pressured into a one-size-fits-all therapy if it is not the right procedure for the problem.
Do not be afraid to get second opinions regarding your health and procedures. Also, doctors are not infallible. They work many hours and mistakes can happen. If you or a loved one suffered a worsening of condition or death due to stents, you may be eligible for damages. Let the experts at the Sweeney Law Firm review the facts to see if you have a medical malpractice case. There is no fee for representation unless there is a settlement or recovery of funds for you.